[ MARK MAGNIER and WILLIAM MAULDIN | December 09, 2016 |Wall Street Journal ]
China’s 15-year anniversary as a member of the World Trade Organization on Sunday threatens to trigger a clash with growing forces in the West that cast Beijing as an abuser of open global markets.
The anniversary marks Beijing’s eligibility for “market-economy status,” which would remove many risks of punishment when Chinese companies are accused of selling products below cost. But the issue is bringing to the fore mounting global frustration over China’s state-led economic policy.
Since joining the WTO on Dec. 11, 2001, China has leveraged the open markets the organization fosters to lift millions of people from poverty and catapult itself to become the world’s No. 2 economy. But Beijing’s critics say it has gamed the system by curbing access to its markets and marshaling massive state resources to compete against foreign companies.
“China wanted the advantages without meeting its obligations, and trade won’t work when it’s a one-way street like that,” said Rep. Sander Levin, the top Democrat on the House committee that overseas trade. “They went in with full knowledge and essentially began thumbing their nose.” Mr. Levin voted for legislation tied to China’s WTO accession but has since become a vocal critic of Beijing’s compliance.